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Is It Possible To Bring Pets On Irish Transport?
Ymay have a pet. You may use public transport in your daily life. But have you tried to both recently? Probably not.
In Ireland, certain bizarre occasions notwithstanding, we tend to keep our buses and our furry friends well apart. But that isn’t the case in other countries.
Croatian national Snjezana Frketic has been in Ireland since December. She’s fresh from two years of travelling and working on Dublin’s north side.
Everywhere she went in that two years, her six-year-old white German Shepherd dog Onni went with her. Until she got to Ireland.
“We have travelled through many countries together – the USA, Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, Belgium, Croatia – transport of pets in other countries is always more or less the same: yes they are allowed, mostly without a muzzle, and rarely free of charge. With a special ticket mostly,” she told TheJournal.ie.
Coming to Ireland made me realise that Irish public transport – as well as hiking trails, restaurants, and other things – is not welcoming towards medium or big-size dogs.
For 33-year-old Snjezana, the difference in standards first became apparent when her and Onni got stuck in the rain in Wexford and were trying to get to Dublin.
“None of the trains or buses were willing to take us. We couldn’t even stay inside the train station, rather we were told to stay outside. And it was freezing!
What our transport services say
TheJournal.ie inquired of Ireland’s major transport providers what their attitude to pets aboard their vehicles is, and what their rationale is.
The four questioned – Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus, Irish Rail, and Luas – all have relatively similar policies at present. And they don’t seem to be in any hurry to change them.
Irish Rail, who Snjezana would most like to make use of as she and Onni are used to travelling by train, allow guide and assistance dogs at all times.
Smaller dogs and cats can be carried on board in a passenger’s lap or in a carry-container free of charge. Larger animals (which Onni certainly is) are persona non grata however, and if a fellow passenger objects to a pet, the owner is expected to move.
Larger dogs can be accommodated on rare occasions in an unoccupied guard’s car, although this only applies on two routes in Ireland. A charge applied in such circumstances.
“We already regard our policy as pet-friendly,” a spokesman told us.
Up until approximately eight years ago, we only permitted guide dogs and assistance dogs in the passenger area, and have relaxed this to allow smaller dogs and cats to be carried.
Bus Éireann allow only guide and assistance dogs and they have to be clearly jacketed as such. “Dogs, cats or any other animals or live fowl of any description WILL NOT be carried,” the company says on its site.
A spokesperson told us the rules in place are “for health and safety reasons”.
Dublin Bus are less clear as to what’s acceptable and what isn’t. A query to the company was met with this response: “Under the Dublin Bus bye-laws, customers shall not bring any bird, animal, article or thing onto a bus if it is likely to cause annoyance or damage to any customer or damage to any property in the opinion of a Dublin Bus employee (driver or inspector).”
The only exception to this law is in the case of a customer with a guide-dog or an assistance dog. Owners must carry the correct identification and ensure that the dog is wearing the correct tag or coat.
This would suggest that the choice is entirely at the bus driver’s discretion, which would appear to be a little less strict than Bus Éireann’s approach.
Luas operator Transdev didn’t reply to our query. However, the Luas website’s frequently-asked-questions section suggests that, again, the tram service is mostly a guide-dogs-only zone:
Other dogs and animals are allowed on the tram provided they are in an appropriate enclosed pet carrier case / box. Their travel is at the discretion of Luas Staff.
So it doesn’t seem Ireland’s transport network has any plans to loosen its rules regarding access for pets.
Not that Snjezana is giving up just yet. She has started an online survey which she is planning to give to Irish Rail in a bid to change their regulations when it reaches 1,200 responses (the mandatory limit for consideration in a country Ireland’s size – you can take that survey here).
“I got an official response from Irish Rail which is that their customer policy is only orientated towards people without dogs or with small dogs. People with bigger dogs don’t even have the possibility to be customers. I find that really discriminating,” she says.
There are people who need their dogs as an emotional support. There are people who don’t have a driving licence or a car. Being punished for having a pet such as bigger dog, and a bigger dog is anything above 8kg) is affecting some people’s quality of life.
And on the other hand, there are financial benefits for Irish Rail as well. I think it is time for Ireland to catch up with the rest of the world on this matter.
“Now I’m here in Ireland I want to use my spare time doing stuff outdoors. Like hiking in Wicklow. But you cannot reach Wicklow with your dog here. You have to hire a car. And that’s not much good if you don’t want to hire a car,” she adds.
You can take Snjezana’s survey here
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